By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 2:00 pm
Is there any part of our lives that’s more backwards from a digital-technology standpoint than the hours we spend in the second homes known as cars? Interesting exceptions such as Ford Sync aside, automobiles seem to routinely run about half a decade behind the rest of the world when it comes to personal technology. (I felt positively triumphant when I recently installed an adapter that lets me listen to my iPhone in the car–woo hoo!)
So the concept car being announced today by nG Connect–a consortium of companies involved in the next-generation LTE wireless broadband standard–is, indeed, a dream machine. Designed by LTE infrastructure company Alcatel Lucent, Atlantic Records, infogizmo maker Chumby, kid site Kabillion, real-time operating system developer QNX, and Toyota, the modified Prius sports large multiple Net -connected touchscreens (including separate ones for the driver and front passenger) that deliver information services such as GPS navigation, car diagnostics, and home monitoring; music and movies (not to the driver, I assume!); networked games; shopping, and more.
It’s also a rolling hotspot so you can use laptops and Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones and other wireless gizmos.
When will we be able to park something like this in our own driveways? Well, LTE should start to matter next year. Judging from past history with network rollouts, I’m assuming it’s going to be awhile until it’s available everywhere I want to drive. (I rode in the passenger’s seat down California’s Highway 1 this weekend, and even plain old EVDO often disappeared on me.) I figure it’s also going to be awhile before car companies build even a fraction of this stuff into real vehicles–and once they do, it’ll be awhile longer before it’s priced for mere humans.
All of which is fine by me. I’m nowhere near ready to retire my trusty 2004 Mazda3, so if it’s a few years before this concept car becomes affordable reality, I can wait.
Does it appeal to you?